tv Inside Story Al Jazeera December 28, 2015 11:30pm-12:01am EST
day. we hope you had a good riddance day. we'll be here all week for the new year's eve week. thank you for watching. for the latest news, head to aljazeera.com. and stay here, ray suarez is up next with "inside story". >> america's college and university students past and present are more than $1 trillion in debt. graduating college with tens of thousands in loans is now commonplace, as is heading to work in jobs that don't require a college degree. years of costing more than other things, racing ahead of slowly rising incomes. more people are wondering
whether it's finally all worth it. degrees, costs and benefits, it's the "inside story." ♪ ♪ ♪ >> welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. the cost of attending college has gone up in the past 40 years faster than the cost of just about anything else you buy. look at family incomes in the 1970 with a little planning, americans could pay without economic stress. now a family earning the median income would find it harder without serious saving beforehand or taking out loans. when you factor private colleges and universities, the tuition and
housing costs are astronomical at a time when smaller number of students are finishing degrees in four years. take those numbers, add in low starting salaries, a sizable serge of college degree holders working in jobs that don't require degrees and you have the makings of the current anxiety that it's just not worth it. al jazeera's afnal jazeera's allen schauffler has spent time with those students. >> getting a lot of e-mails like this one. >> unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with your candidacy at this time. >> avery is an apprentice plum inner a hands-on four yea
plumber in a hands on four year program. jill was in a program, school wasn't cheap. >> you're in debt $70,000. >> yes i am. >> how does that feel? >> terrifying. >> avery tried apprentice shipping. it just didn't take. he could earn more than $60,000 a year more as he gains skill and experience. >> i'm making money already and working on it. i mean they're work pg o workinn getting a career too, they also have to pay off those debts they get. >> america's total student debt now tops $1 trillion. sort of job market. stagnant wages. >> 70% of students graduate with debt, the level of that debt is $29,000 on average. study after study shows their earning potential is up higher
than for those without a degree. dr. bill zumetta researches and teaches the economics of education. >> here's another big number. $300,000. what does that mean? >> the 300,000 is a conservative estimate of the gains from getting a college degree compared to a high school diploma. minus all the costs of going to college. however much it costs to going to college ultimately it should pay off. >> jill is glad she got an education but those grad school loans come due in january. greater long term earning potential than undergraduate degrees but he emphasizes that costs are not for everyone. >> this is avery's postsecondary education.
all the pipe-hauling, ditch digging adding up to a head start in life. >> you're always going to need plumbers, it goes the same for other professors. >> everyone needs a plumber? >> exactly. >> since talking with al jazeera jill has found employment in the art management field. degrees costs and benefits this time on the program. leslie fenwick is the dean of the harvard university school of education, andrew hanson is a research analyst at georgetown university center on education and the workforce. andrew, in the course of my lifetime, college has gone from an elite to a mass experience. that's great. all during that time people have been saying the best thing you can do for yourself is get more school.
just in the recent years i've heard an undercurrent of doubt. what's driving it? >> this is predictable, every time there's a recession everybody suffers regardless how much education they have. what people inferred from that is that a college degree was no longer worth it. based on the data we look at and all the research we're familiar with, that is just not case. a college degree is not only worth it. it pays more than it ever has, point 1. and the economy is creating far more jobs, especially jobs that pay a living wage for college graduates than they have before. >> but matt mcdonald, isn't the cost of college at least undermining andrew's argument somewhat? >> yes, i actually think that it is definitely still worth it but what you're actually seeing is directionally, it becomes a little bit less worth it each year. as wages go up a little bit less, and the cost goes up a
little bit more, is that people feel the pain, as compared to what it was like for their parents or their older siblings or something like that. so it's not really a function of it not being worth it. it just seems less of a good deal over time. >> leslie fenwick, should we also qualify that question and say well, depends on who you're talking about, what they want to do, where they want to live, those kinds of things? >> absolutely. i think blacks and hispanics are more likely to report an optimistic view about the impact of college on quality of life, and the ability to get a job and keep a job, than their white counterparts and peers about 64% of whom report this kind of optimism around having a job, getting a job, having a quality of life tied to a job and college attendance. it depends who you're talking to what segments of the american population you're talking to. >> given way things have changed in the last 30 years i think i'm
on pretty solid ground in suggesting that a black or latino kid is much more possible of having educated parents than a white kid. >> that's true. >> and to have parents who are lowly paid, and have fewer opportunities because they aren't well educated. >> i think those realities are certainly fueling this optimism this perception that a college degree matters, that it's going to influence your ability to get and keep a job and that also influences factors even related to longevity. >> is part of this anxiety driven by the fact that college has, unfortunately, become a default position for older american teenagers, that we don't have a wide array of choices for them when they leave high school, so they end up in college whether they really ought to be there or not. matt? >> you know i think that's fair
and i bet leslie has comments to weigh in on where we are in k-12. because it does feel like we have moved, and this is you know from an aspirational standpoint it's good to target college for every kid. but if college isn't going to be the best outcome for every kit, if it's a certificate program or if it's a skills program there is a question of whether at a k-12 level or a subbachelor's level if we're fitting that appetite that need that demand in the skills perspective in the right way. >> yet at the same time, andrew, people are saying hey, don't close down my opportunities. if you start telling me in 11th or 12th grade, maybe i shouldn't go to college, there's a backlash. because there's a very nasty memory of kids being told they weren't college material in other generations, and that not necessarily being the case. >> i think that's exactly right.
and i think that this fear that students would be tracked into what used to be caught advocatessa vocational education now into career and technical education, aside from the four year college has led to an addiction to the bachelor's degree quite frankly in the u.s. education system. what we do know is there are about 30 million jobs that pay a living wage and don't require a bachelor's degree. but we also know that the new minimum for access to middle class jobs is some postsecondary education, a degree are certificate or education or an apprenticeship which we saw are other pathways we should promote. >> let's hold 30th in a moment. during this enormous runup of cost it took two to tan go. two and three times the rate of inflation every year: families
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♪ >> you're watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. keep an eye on newspapers and websites. they're full of story of undergraduates who identified a dream school, got in and broated breathtaking amount of money to get in. six figure debt loads really cover a minority of cases but when you consider how many schools breezed past the $60,000 a year barrier and are now headed towards 70, should more students and their families simply use their market power to say no, we're not going to do it? degrees, costs and benefits this time on the program. will you end up concluding college was worth it if you don't overpay? if you drop the dream school and pick a school you can really afford?
leslie fenwick of howard university, matt mcdonald of hamilton place strategies and george hamilton of washington university, we have management at the table. is cost really playing enough of a role when inspirational families aspirationalfamilies are playinr a role in making a choice? >> absolutely they are. we have to know our economy is less than 30% of the country having bachelor's degrees. there is some sense in the american psyche that in order for me to get a job i may not need that college degree if only 25 to 30% of the population actually earns the degree. and i think also part of the psyche is that we have a president of the united states and a first lady who came to office owing student loan debt
and mate it apparent that the -- made it apparent that the length of years individuals are engaged in the payment of debt is serious and it affects people well into their 40s and 50s and even professional individuals. i think families are considering all of that in their choice and they're trying to make the most economical decision. we've seen more students who are seeking a community college degree, and then transitioning to the bachelor's degree, we've seen more students being siphoned off to public colleges and universities rather than private schools which have dibble the rate of tuition and tenant fees. that is clear in the american psyche and affecting decision making. >> howard university an historic black college that has played a role in american history. as educating those first generation students. georgetown, i think, if we were to look at the schedule of costs and fees, is one of those
places, well, not at the top but near it, within shouting distance of it. who are those kids and are a lot of them going in debt to be there? >> absolutely. and -- but what they think is that it's a good investment. and the data prove them right. the students who, the graduates who struggle the most with paying down their debt are not students, or the graduates, who have high debt burdens that attend the harvards and the georgetowns but those students who attend community colleges and drop out or don't get a degree or certificate of value. those are the students who are struggling most with their debt. not the students who graduate from elite public colleges. >> there's something paradoxical about that, if you take on more debt you're likely to pay it and if you look for a cheaper finish. what are we supposed to do with those numbers? >> the high levels of debt are
correlated with high education, that's the reason people want to go. because in this economy high education results in high wages and wages is what enable you to pay that back. for students and families many of them are thinking differently about how they approach this problem. i think the key for any student or any family is to plan and have a plan and have an understanding of what you're doing and why. and you know i think a lot of the problem stories you hear or read about in the news are people who took a lot of debt out at very expensive schools, and had a major that wasn't going to command a wage premium in the market and got caught out between those two. and i think that -- so i think that the key for any student is to plan. because for most people it's still going to be worth it. but for people where they get into trouble or they get into problem, it's going to be a small segment. but to avoid that you need to have an understanding of how you approach. >> have a plan.
s. >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. is your son a so-so student? well, why push him to attend a rigorous name-brand school that's also very expensive? if your child says to you, honestly and forthrightly, i don't want to go to college. yet. are you bound to hear her, hear him out? as we ask whether college is worth it, are we making
conclusions based on a flawed premise that almost everybody would be better off going. leslie fenwick of howard university, matt mcdonald of hamilton strategies, matt these are decisions made at the end of childhood, that have long consequences, are we taking them seriously enough? >> i think they're difficult decisions and the challenges this a lot of kids face is they're 18 when they're making these decision he and whether that decision is signing on a dotted line for alot of debt or whether that decision is not going at all, those decision ves lon shave lots of consequences. they don't necessarily have the guidance from their parents who have been through it before and know how the system works. you know it's a good idea to apply to multiple schools so you can play off your packages against one another.
lot of parents who haven't done that before don't know that. so i think that you know it's almost like we need to have a way to help these students who are applying through the process understand the process better at the front end and be really educated on what the process is that they're entering into. >> dean fenwick, is the pressure on a 12th grader to go right to college the following september to great and so common and so widespread that maybe a kid who might be better off waiting a year or two doesn't? because they feel, that's not what everybody's doing? >> there's so much conversation about college attendance that's permeated the k-12 environment. so i think most kids are pushed to consider and actually make application to college. the larger issue i find is that, at 17 and 18, whether you're first generation college attendee or from a family that has a legacy or generations of individuals attending college, you have fantastical ideas about
what majors have earning potential in the market. and sometimes, one of the best things i think that parents can do, parents and guardians, is inform their child's consideration of certain fields. so i always point to of course education, nursing, pharmacy, engineering and accounting as bachelor's degrees that at 21 have high earning potentials for someone who's 21. and i think that's something that really needs to be unpacked more by families. and college professionals can help families in thinking about potential. in fact, you know, 80% of teachers are the first in their family to go to college. and so, if you're first generation college attendee and you have a passion for schools and children, maybe education is the right major for you. and maybe you should be educated about other majors that at the bachelor's degree level will result in some real employability for you.
>> andrew hansen, you mentioned at the outsit set this kind of anxiety is predictable after a recession. are we on our way of getting supply and demand for educated workers back in line so it will lower that anxiety a little bit? >> sadly we're not. the economy destroyed 5.6 million high school jobs in the recession. back. at the same time, we've added about seven million jobs for college graduates. the problem is, we're about 11 million college graduates short of that. and so what you've seen there is that employers are willing to pay higher wages, much higher wages for college graduates than high school graduates. and as we go and we continue not to need this shortfall we expect to see that continue. >> we only have about a minute left matt. you've written about and studied about the trend lines in costs and earnings. do present trends always predict
the future? are there other factors that may temper some of those price hikes a little bit in years to come? >> i actually think that's a big factor in what we're seeing. i was actually out in san francisco, and silicon valley this week and the innovation that's going on in the space in termination of technology and learning you can do, there's huge disruption he doing there. mit, my alma mater, they have just recently explored how they can provide certificates through online learning. so there's a lot of innovation going on in the space and i think kind of the old model of library bricks and mortar, that's going to give way to a combination of some of these new things. and part of that will help with gettings the time that people are attending down from what can be five years down to a four year program and help with some of the costs on that side too. >> leslie fenwick dean of the howard university school of education.
matt mcdonald, partner at hamilton strategies and andrew hamilton is a research analyst aft georgetown university's center of employment in the workforce. thank you for your thoughts. i'll be bark with a notion of values. stay with us it's "inside story" and send us your thoughts on twitter, @aj insidestory aj.
>> ing as a father, as a taxpayer as a citizen i worry when i see the frantic scramble for seats in selected universities, even for kids who are not sure why they want to go. i worry when i see poorer students with tougher high school records, aren't even applying, justifying the sacrifices their families made for them to go. instead minority students are clustering in lower cost, lower demand schools that are also less equipped to raise an alarm when they fall behind. many told researchers and reporters when they left a school without a diploma they weren't even sure they knew their school knew they were gone. but here i am, assessing the
value of a diploma in strictly economic terms. it is a widely appreciated person. if you go to college, learn how to do something, learn how to earn, sure that's great. but if you don't also take the chance to pick the brains of the smartest people who have ever lived, don't learn how to live, rather than just how to make a living. you've really missed a great opportunity. unfortunately, that advice sounds counter-cultural, when school costs so much money and so many families are asking for an economic justification. understanding yourself and the world you live in better should also carry value, even if that value is harder to measure why dollars and cents. thank you for joining us for "inside story." see you next time. i'm ray suarez.
moving for celebrations as fighters and families caught in the syrian conflict head for safety a welcoming party, family of syrian boy whose lifeless body sparked outrage, arrives in canada i'm richelle carey in doha with the world news from al jazeera. also ahead in the next half hour - al jazeera gives access to what was once the armed group boko haram's h